"Pure style is my way of life... a blueprint for living in the 21st Century"
28 May 2020
After over nine weeks of Lockdown (the last three with more relaxed rules) time merges from one day to the next in a kind of calender limbo. It must be Thursday because I have Zoom pilates. The weather has been sublime for May and the garden is blooming in a way that it hasn`t before, as if nature is putting up an extra show of defiance against Covid . I notice the garden and its comings and goings so much more being home most of the time apart from excursions to the DIY shop, and a bike ride on my newly acquired sit up and beg Orbea bike - a Spanish company and pleasingly made in Portugal. The roses are magnificently cabbagy pink and scented including the newish Ancient Mariner standard ,see above, which is in its second year here, and has burst forth with many flopping blooms, that pale to vintage pink tones like faded roses on a fifties frock. Dear Constance Spry and Gertrude Jekyll are surpassing themselves on both fences and St.Swithins` heady scented pink whorls are simply fabulous climbing up above the metal arch. With little rain to speak of, the slug and snail threat is low and for the first summer in years I think my beans are going to do good... are springing up in their biodegradble peat pots like gangly youths straining to leave lockdown.
Seen here are Dwarf beans, at the other end of tray there are Runners.
Constance Spry rose
Peony : Luscious and deep fuschia pink. A wonderful memory of my mum who grew the original plant in her Wandsworth garden. After she died in 1999 I divided it and brought it home to the garden.
St.Swithins... not unlike Constance above you might think, but its all in the detail, and once close up the scent is much more subtle, the petals paler and the general structure, looser
Exciting to think of what lies in the future for these little pots of compost with bean seeds tucked up inside waiting to germinate. A few sturdy shoots are poking up and breaking free.
With the dying back of the tulips, the alliums now provide more rich purple garden colour.
The tulips are on the wane but the first swifts are skywheeling towards summer. `They`ve made it again, which means the worlds`s still working ` Ted Hughes. Recycled glass jars are my tulipieres for these single stemmed beauties, and make a few go a long way.
Spring brings so many pretty herbs and wild flowers. ... Here I`m with the wild bunch: comfrey, commonbugloss, lemon balm and a rhubarb leaf, which all add to the wild shaggy look of the garden and are a simple look inside where I put them in a vase on the table.
Over the weekend I made butterfly cakes and a birthday card for close gardening nut friend. I am most industrious when no parties on the horizon. The wire rack is another of my mum`s tools - another old friend for me in the kitchen. I even crystallised the lilac flowers.. quite easy and sweet lilac flavour. Dip flowers in egg white , dip in caster sugar using tweezers, dry on baking paper for up to 36
hours . You can find the cake recipe on Instagram @janecumberbatch ... From my book Pure Style Recipes for Everyday/Pavilion.
I aim for colourful and simple eating on hot summer days. For evening drinks or starters at lunch or dinner I pass round smoked mackerel, beetroot and horseradish on pieces of soda bread or a huge plate of raw vegetables and beetroot puree . Carrots, chicory, cucumber, radishes and courgettes are perfect vegetable colours in orange, pink, green, and yellows. Substitute the puree with garlic mayonnaise. These went down a treat at my Pure Colour book launch in June, when the garden was heavy with the scent of rose blooms .
For the book launch we hung garlands of lights which gave a twinkling summer garden party feel to the occasion. Their waterproof qaulity is being tested as we leave them up through the summer cloudbursts to enjoy on warm evenings.
Summer colour in the garden doesn`t stop when the roses are over. I stitch cushions in rose pink cotton velvet, and purple and yellow linen by Manuel Canovas to keep the vibe going.
And there`s cake. Cake is best eaten outside on a winter picnic, or somewhere shady on a hot afternoon. I make a basic Vctoria sponge and smother it with lemon butter cream.
I am still married to my rubber boots even though the sun is spilling through the windows on a rare dry break in the deluge.
Cat and dog laid out in the warming rays as they spread across the newly made bed and decorate it with the finest of cat and dog fur.
After my rant last week, I must say that the upsides of shoots outweigh the occasional down moments. This week we feasted on leftovers: coffee and walnut cake.etc., made by a young, and starting out cook Charlotte Gardelis, who expertly fed and watered the team in the main shoot space.
Munching the last slice of cake and reading Vogue, I see that my investment in a lightweight mint coloured puffa from Uniclo has been given the fashion bible`s stamp of approval, too. I`m not a puffa person but this is a great colour to go with my pink bits and is really warm which is what really counts.
Dodged the showers and tube strike to see Beckett`s Happy Days at the Young Vic. It wasn`t the most uplifting play to go to with a young person at the start of life and full of fluttery hopes, but Juliet Stephenson `s Winnie showed the female capacity for looking on the bright side when it isn`t ,and she has great hand movements.
Happier days, are spent fielding packets of lovely fabric samples, that drop through the letter box for the new book I`m working on. My heart sings when I come across colours in embroidery like this from Pierre Frey , above. Must tell you too that I`m pleased my borders are part of the collection curated by Silvanna de Soissons in her new foodie bugle online shop.
Days getting a little longer... the garden is beginning to beckon for spring. I am looking forward to replacing worn out and wind damaged willow fences at the bottom of the garden with 3 freshly woven hazel ones that arrived by courier yesterday.